Addiction doesn’t just happen. A variety of different paths actively bring individuals into this situation. Some people are genetically predisposed to the disease of addiction, and other addicts developed their dependency and addiction over time. The disease of addiction is progressive, and some people’s addiction progresses quicker than others. It’s important to understand the stages of addiction and what each one means so you or a loved one can get help as soon as possible.
Stage 1: Experimenting with Substances
One of the first stages of addiction is something that most people go through at one point in their life. Many people begin their experimentation with drugs in their teens, but an increasing number of young people are starting even earlier—at 10 to 12 years old. A primary risk factor of becoming addicted is a person’s age, and young people are much more likely to progress in their addiction faster than an adult due to their lack of brain development. They have a prefrontal cortex that’s not regulating impulsive behaviors as well, so they may progress to the next stage faster than someone in their 20s or 30s.
Stage 2: Regular Substance Use
During the experimentation stages of addiction, people may have tried drugs or alcohol for a specific situation like loosening up at a party or trying to manage pain. Regular drug use happens when individuals begin to regularly use as a part of their normal routines. This can include stress reduction, going to sleep or seeking a pleasurable high.
Stage 3: Risk-Taking Substance Use
As people’s regular drug use begins to progress, they’ll take more risks. This happens because the pleasure system in the brain is overpowering the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for the fight or flight sense that all humans have. The risks may include putting job performance, grades, personal or intimate relationships and finances at risk. It may even include individuals getting involved with situations that can put them in risky legal situations.
Stage 4: Dependence
When people’s stages of addiction get to dependence, their mind and body crave alcohol or drugs. The continuous use of drugs or alcohol are not just so individuals can get high, but rather so that they can simply feel well. Those who have developed a dependence often suffer from withdrawal if they don’t drink or use drugs.
Stage 5: Addiction
The final stage is the mental aspect of the disease of addiction. People with a full-blown addiction compulsively use. This often leaves addicts scared and confused because they’re using without even thinking about it. Even when they want to stop, it’s increasingly difficult because they drink or use whenever possible because their brain circuitry has been changed. No matter where you or a loved one is at in the stages of addiction, Lakeview Health can help. We’re a drug and alcohol rehab facility located in Florida, and we’re passionate about helping people begin a life of recovery from active addiction. Contact Lakeview Health today and find out how you can take your life back from addiction.